Sometimes documentaries can make a real difference. Just this year Kirby Dick's The Invisible War made a major impact in the way rape cases are handled in the US military. And now Mads Brugger's The Ambassador is making big waves... in Liberia.
The film, which is being released in the US by Drafthouse Films, follows provocateur Brugger as he buys fake diplomatic creds in an effort to smuggle blood diamonds out of The Central African Republic (under the guise of attempting to establish a match factory run by pygmies. It's a comedy doc). So why does Liberia care?
Well, Mads got his fake creds from Liberia, and his papers are even signed personally by that nation's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Oh yes. From the Economist:
Liberia’s government, which has been trying to coax back investors while maintaining donor support, is not amused. The ministry of information expressed “grave consternation”, and promised to sue the “admitted fraudster”. Mrs Johnson Sirleaf vowed to seek extradition, although it is unclear what the charges would be.
Liberia has an interesting history. It got its name from the black Americans who began colonizing it in the 1820s; they were setting up a home for freed slaves, and they identified themselves as Americo-Liberians (and Liberia, obviously, being derived from Liberty). The nation's capitol is Monrovia, named after James Monroe, who thought that sending slaves back to Africa was a better idea than just emancipating them.
Liberia's recent history has been harsh. The last president, Charles Taylor, was just
brought up on convicted of war crimes charges in the Hague. The nation has a storied history selling fake documents to whoever could afford them, but the current regime was trying to convince everybody that the country had cleaned up its act. And then The Ambassador.
You can see for yourself what all the hubbub is about - The Ambassador is now on VOD; it'll play selected theaters on August 29th.